How can I buy a condo for cheap in florida?

Mar 26th, 2013, 03:33 AM
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There was a recent segment on CNBC:
ekscrunchy is offline  
Mar 26th, 2013, 08:27 AM
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Do most associations provide the minutes and docs and financial information to prospective buyers? I;m president of our (tiny) association, and I don't think we've ever had such a request until after the contract is ratified. Which would be a bit late if the news is bad.
NewbE is offline  
Mar 26th, 2013, 09:04 AM
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In my area, law requires the seller to provide a full set of condo docs (bylaws, financial reports, reserve analysis, a year's minutes) upon accepting an offer. The buyer then has three days to review them and can walk away, with full refund of the deposit, for any reason (including just a change of heart). It is a large pile of paper and an updated set must be prepared on short notice, so the there is a cost to the seller of $100+. Of course buyers inquire about pet policies, etc., and can get a copy of house rules, before making an offer. But official condo doc package only goes to someone who really intends to buy the property.
kayd is offline  
Mar 26th, 2013, 09:52 AM
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Neo -

The assessemnt is temporary - the first we've had in more than 10 years. Once you raise the maintenance it's up - and it never goes down.

And by keeping it as an assessment (to be paid at one time) the tenant was able to borrow it at very low rates if they chose - paying over time versus putting their entire budget out of control long-term.

We work very hard to keep our maintenance low - for the type of building and size of apartment - in order to keep apartment values higher. As for the $6000 - we have a large apartment - for someone with a one bedroom the amount was quite modest.

And we do have good financial advisors - they are the ones who keep us up to date with what lenders expect for a building of our type/size to renegotiate our underlying mortgage and make sure potenital owners can get the best rates possible.
nytraveler is offline  
Mar 26th, 2013, 10:14 AM
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The maintenance fee on our condo actually DID go down over the past year so obviously every building/association is different.

I suspect that like it or not if a management company which obviously rrepresents the association refuses to provide certain information based on whether or not they are certain somebody is going to buy that could be a problem for the seller.

There are reasons why a sale might not go through which have absolutely nothing to do with a buyer's intent or sincerity.

And if all else fails, the seller can sometimes provide a certain amount of written information and no association is going to hold that information back from a seller.
Dukey1 is offline  
Mar 26th, 2013, 11:34 AM
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"And by keeping it as an assessment (to be paid at one time) the tenant was able to borrow it at very low rates if they chose - paying over time versus putting their entire budget out of control long-term."

OK, I guess I get it now. It would not be logical to amortize the "known" cost of the roof over say 20 years within maintenance fees (obviously a pretty small amount that way) putting into a reserve account as it would put people's budgets "out or control". Instead it makes more sense to hit them with the total amount all within one year in an amount they must borrow as that is easier for people. OK, if you say so.

My main point was that in Florida, the state we were talking about, an owner could sue an association for not having reserves for a known major expense like roof replacement. There it is a law designed to protect condo and coop owners from having major assessments for standard but major expenses which could have and should have been planned for.
NeoPatrick is offline  
Mar 26th, 2013, 01:50 PM
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As far as I know, roof replacement is the only thing for which Florida condo law requires a separate reserve fund. An owner could sue the association for failing to have enough money on hand for things like driveway repair or maintenance of common areas, but the law doesn't require that those kinds of things be specifically provided for. I think.
NewbE is offline  
Mar 26th, 2013, 02:55 PM
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NewbE, see my post yesterday at 3:22 PM. I quoted the law which specifically DOES mention both painting and paving, plus the general "and for any other item for which the deferred maintenance expense or replacement cost exceeds $10,000."
NeoPatrick is offline  
Mar 26th, 2013, 03:30 PM
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NewbE and NeoPatrick, this is a serious question. Let's say the association has violated the law and the reserves are insufficient for roof replacement or other deferred maintenance/replacement costs. Are the individual board members responsible for making up the deficiency? Are they liable in damages to the homeowners for breaching their legal obligations? If not, what does it get you, other than more costs (litigation) for the homeowners to absorb?
sf7307 is offline  
Mar 26th, 2013, 04:26 PM
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Well first of all most boards have insurance for their officers and boards relieving them of such responsibilities.
But yes, lawsuits would likely mainly raise costs for the members. When a condo owner sues his association he is essentially suing himself.
And unless it was shown that the reserves were deliberately ignored without vote by the members, a lawsuit may not go very far.
NeoPatrick is offline  
Mar 26th, 2013, 06:00 PM
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You might contact my friend Heather Zurlo at
330east is offline  
Mar 26th, 2013, 06:20 PM
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Hawaii also requires condos to have sufficient reserves to cover expected expenses, repairs and improvenments. A 20 year budget is required. The law was passed when new owners got tired of being hit with huge assessments that the owner association should have been saving for all along. Even if you can get sweet loans for the owners, a $500 a month increase is unfair to both owners on a fixed budget and to people who recently bought in.

As a Realtor, I look at assessments as a sign of poor fiscal management. On the rare cases where such an assessment is required (one building here recently had to do one because of a major plumbing failure) it puts a real damper on sales. I also think most people would find a permanent $50 or $75 a month increase much more more palatable than a $500/month increase for 12 months.
lcuy is offline  
Mar 26th, 2013, 07:06 PM
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Neo, I did read the excerpt, but my point about roof funds is a bit more arcane: I think that's the only thing that requires a separate reserve fund, fenced off from the other monies. But it doesn't matter, as we agree that it is certainly the board's responsibility to handle the finances such that maintenance and repair are covered.

I also agree with your reply to sf. Residents need to get involved in their board's activities if they want a say, because suing after you're displeased is unpleasant and expensive. And you are likely only to win the privilege of unseating the board and holding a new election. We have good participation on ours in the sense of percentage of units represented at meetings, but it's the same owners month after month, and the same ones always absent. I wonder if the absentees realize how much power the board has over their financial well being!
NewbE is offline  
Mar 27th, 2013, 03:53 AM
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OK, NewbE, I guess I'm not fully following you. In all the condos I've owned or been on the board of, there was no "fenced off" roof fund -- it was just a general percentage of the total reserves and like other reserves could be adjusted up and down as life expectancy or cost expectations varied. All the reserves including for the roof were in one special account. When we did a 10 year assessment of our roofs for one condo (half of the life expectancy) and it was determined it would not last another 10 years, then a slightly higher percentage of the reserves from quarterly maintenance. payments went into the roof fund, but it was still all just part of one account.
NeoPatrick is offline  
Mar 27th, 2013, 04:30 AM
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One bedroom, one bathroom, $26.000 in west Boca Raton:. Leaving personal decor choices aside, cheaper than buying a car.
ekscrunchy is offline  
Mar 27th, 2013, 07:31 AM
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mohan, I didn't read the linked article but just wanted to say, if what you want is a place to go when it gets cold in NYC, you don't need to BUY anything. Get on a plane and go to a hotel! It's a lot cheaper. Figure out how many days you can realistically spend in Florida, multiply by what you think a hotel (or condo rental) will cost and compare that to what you're going to pay for mortgage and carrying charges.

The Florida real estate market is not for the faint of heart. Buying/selling is all a matter of timing. One bad hurricane and your apt. value can plummet. It may be temporary, but if it's when you need to sell, it doesn't matter. I've known too many people who have either been stuck with property they can't sell or have had to sell at a loss. There are loads of studio and 1 bedroom condos for sale because people don't want them! The carrying costs/maintenance charges etc. will drive you crazy. Just my two penneth.
mclaurie is offline  
Mar 27th, 2013, 08:15 AM
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McLAurie: Maybe take a look at the linked articles (why comment here without reading them in the first place??) and then return.

For the price that I have paid for a rental condo, for just one winter here, I could have purchased an apartment in one of the communities mentioned in the article and in the HBO doc. (Or a used car)

Carrying costs are very very low. Not sure how much a hurricane would affect the prices of the communities mentioned.

Hotels rates in those hotels I have seen are not reflective of the low real estate prices.

Having been here several months, and having had tours of various areas with agents, I think that this area might certainly be a good value for those interested in having an inexpensive bolthole in a warm weather zone.

Agree with McLaurie that renting for a season might be prudent before a purchase.
ekscrunchy is offline  
Mar 27th, 2013, 10:17 AM
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What people are missing is that the $500 per month was for a large aprtment. The people in a one-bedroom ( more than half of our building) only had to pay a litle more than $100 per month - about $1300 overall. IMHO better to do this than permanently raise the maintenance.

In any case, that is our philosophy - and what the elected board voted to do.

Naturally we could have paid cash out of the reserve fund - but then the permanent maintenance goes up and apartment value goes down.

As for people on limited, fixed incomes who can;t come up with an extra $100 per month - they probably could not afford to live in the building. Our latest sale was the smallst one bedroom - about 750 sq ft - and the price was more than $800K. (Please no cracks about Trumps. This is a 6 story red brick middle class - no doorman - prewar building. And part of the reason the price is so high is that our maintenance is about $300 less than average for these apartments.)
nytraveler is offline  
Mar 27th, 2013, 01:00 PM
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Nytraveler, I don't think any of us were missing that at all. Some of us and the Florida laws just totally disagree with you, that's all.
NeoPatrick is offline  
Mar 28th, 2013, 06:38 AM
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Thanks everyone. All of you have given me much to think about.

In the NY times article, the condo was sold for $26,900, annual property tax was $632. Can I assume there is no monthly maintenance? What other expenses should I anticipate?

Do condo board have something against people who don't reside in the condo full time? Is spending 2 months in a year a problem to neighbors?

I think my late neighbor said his friend looked out for his condo when he was in NYC. I don't know anyone there, is it an issue?

I enjoy gardening, can i expect to find a condo with a small garden or is that strictly with a house?

Our shortcoming is we don't know how to fix things. I don't drive, dh will be doing all the driving. Theoretically we will buy a car and leave it in Florida.

Do realtor handle cheap deals like the one in the ny times?

ekscrunchy, Thanks for the links. They are most helpful. Thanks for taking the time to input while you are on vacation.

I don't think I need an ocean view. The thought of having to deal with the aftermath of a hurricane is scary. Don't mind being a baby boomer among the very old. I have not been to an over 55 community but I don't think I have a problem with it.

I appreciate a good gym with a swimming pool and exercise classes. A well-equipped ceramic studio and the opportunity to garden will be the deal breaker.

Do you like where you are now? I know I always love your trip report. No pressure, if you have the time.

Yesterday was a beautiful day in NYC, today it's looking lovely also. Spring is here!
mohan is offline  

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